Noise pollution can be just as harmful and should be tackled

The fact that we live in a small island state with a high population density necessitates that we find ways to co-exist peacefully with one another.
The fact that we live in a small island state with a high population density necessitates that we find ways to co-exist peacefully with one another. PHOTO: ST FILE

I do not agree with Mr Cheng Choon Fei's views on noise pollution (No practical solution to noise pollution, so we should adapt, April 2).

Noise pollution can be just as harmful as other forms of pollution. Research has shown that it can damage one's physiological health.

It can also cause hypertension, high stress levels and sleep disturbances. Exposure to high noise levels can also lead to hearing loss.

It is also not true that noise pollution cannot be practically curbed.

The National Environment Agency has set up a Quieter Construction Fund to support Singapore construction companies to use quieter construction and noise control equipment, and to encourage innovative solutions to reduce construction-related noise.

Mr Cheng also said noise control may encroach on people's personal rights.

We should not be concerned with the rights of only the people making the noise.

What about the rights of those who want to enjoy a tranquil environment or a good night's sleep without being woken up by vehicles with modified exhaust pipes?

The fact that we live in a small island state with a high population density necessitates that we find ways to co-exist peacefully with one another.

It is an undisputed fact that noise pollution has adverse effects on our quality of life, and it is unwise to assume that we have no choice but to live with it.

Culture can also play a part. For example, in Japan, it is considered bad etiquette for someone to talk loudly on public transport such as trains and buses. Many people in Japan work long hours and are under constant stress. A ride on public transport is regarded as time for a bit of peace for those who may choose to nap, think or read.

This is the mark of having true respect for others' personal space. We may take quite some time to attain this level of social etiquette, but it is possible.

Noise pollution can, and should be, tackled.

Individual efforts and self-consciousness play a part, but, more importantly, the nation as a whole should take a serious view towards it.

Seeing it as less harmful than other forms of pollution is not only folly, but a sure path towards the detriment of our well-being too.

Benjamin Tan Lay Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'Noise pollution can be just as harmful and should be tackled'. Print Edition | Subscribe